Sports Media

Ariel Helwani

Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ariel Helwani Bet On Himself And Hit The Jackpot

Ariel Helwani
Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ariel Helwani Bet On Himself And Hit The Jackpot

Ariel Helwani is probably the biggest name in the MMA world for media members. Helwani got his start professionally in 2006, and ever since then he has become the go-to MMA journalist for all up-to-date information. From interning at HBO all the way to landing, what he thought was, his dream job at ESPN and all the changes and drama in between, Helwani has been through it all and can really be an inspiration to all journalists trying to break out and make a name for themselves.

Early Years

Ariel Helwani got his start in journalism in college, where he started a sports show on a local radio show WERW. He gained a fair amount of popularity from the show and that helped him land a summer internship with NBC leading up to the 2004 Summer Olympics but had to withdraw due to an ankle injury. He would go on to have an internship with HBO in early 2003 and take a full-time position with the company in 2004 as a Sports Production Assistant. Helwani would quit his job and start up his own MMA website to provide reporting and up-to-date information in the world of MMA. Era

Ariel Helwani would join in 2006 where he hosted his famous MMA Hour podcast along with co-hosting Fight Club, a Sirius XM show. His show gained a massive following online, thanks in part to his relatable personality and his honest line of questioning. His great interviews with Conor McGregor to his more jovial interviews with someone like Khabib Nurmagomedov when Khabib told him he didn’t have his number, you can always find an interview you’ll like with Ariel.

During his time with MMA Fighting, Helwani would also become a contributor to FOX and became an MMA Insider for Fox’s UFC Tonight Show. He was fired from the role in 2016 after Dana White banned Helwani from attending any UFC event. The aforementioned drama surrounding the UFC and Ariel Helwani which led to his ban stemmed from Helwani breaking the news on two major fights without contacting the company beforehand. According to Dana White, the ban will last as long as he is with the company. But for Helwani, it wouldn’t be all bad for too long.

The Dream ESPN Job

After 12 years in the journalist game, he climbed the mountain and landed the dream job: ESPN. Helwani agreed to a three-year contract with the company in 2018 and he would go on to wear a number of hats during his time. He had two great weekly shows he would do in Ariel and the Bad Guy with Chael Sonnen and co-hosted the Helwani and DC show with Daniel Cormier. Helwani would also go on to do NBA reporting, which was another dream of his. His two shows were wildly popular and his following would only continue to grow.

While his contract was coming up, his negotiations with ESPN did not pan out the way Helwani would have wanted and instead of taking the ESPN deal, he decided to bet on himself and go back to his roots.

He Has Returned

In 2021, Ariel Helwani announced he would be bringing back the MMA Hour after agreeing to come back to MMA Fighting, much to the delight of MMA fans around the world. Since the return of the show, it has done insane weekly numbers and the guests that come on every week (two shows a week) are a whos who in the MMA world. He has also landed jobs with BT Sport and The Ringer. Helwani has been able to show that personality fans grew to love, going on shows he was not able to do before like The Pat McAfee Show, The Dan Le Batard Show, and others. His Substack has a solid following of supporters as well, which is something he couldn’t do during his time at ESPN. The decision to leave ESPN and go back to doing his own thing has proved to be the right decision.

Ariel Helwani has shown all of us in the sports media world that not only is the grass not always greener on the other side, but sometimes when you take that chance and bet on yourself, you can hit the jackpot. Despite trying to be brought down by the likes of Dana White, Brendan Schaub, and many others, Helwani has found a way to rise through all the hate he undeservingly gets and prosper on the other side. Here’s to hoping Helwani continues his great success and paves even more paths for young journalists like myself.

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